Coxsackium is a condition caused by a virus that can spread among children with eczema and cause painful symptoms and fever. It typically goes away on its own but should be monitored.

One of the most common inflammatory skin conditions in young children is eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Eczema is characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin that typically appears as a rash on the face, on the neck, and in the crooks of the knees and elbows.

Eczema coxsackium (EC) is a viral infection that most commonly affects children who have atopic dermatitis. EC is caused by the coxsackievirus. Because coxsackievirus is also responsible for most cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), people sometimes refer to EC as atypical HFMD.

Ahead, we’ll share everything you need to know about EC, including symptoms, treatment, outlook, and more.

Is eczema coxsackium the same as hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Because eczema coxsackium (EC) develops after a person contracts the coxsackievirus, it’s sometimes referred to as atypical hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). However, EC and HFMD are separate conditions with different causes and symptoms:

  • HFMD: This leads to a rash that spreads across the hands and feet, as well as blisters and sores in the mouth. It’s typically caused by infection with coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) and enterovirus A71 (EV71).
  • EC: This leads to a painful, blistering rash that can appear not only on the hands and feet, but also on the face, torso, groin, and buttocks. It’s usually caused by an infection with CVA16 or, less commonly, coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6).

Both conditions can also cause other symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, fatigue, fever, and general malaise.

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EC is a blistering rash-like skin infection, typically seen in children with eczema. It is caused by an enterovirus called the coxsackievirus. Coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6) and coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) are the most common strains associated with EC.

This infection commonly affects children with eczema because eczema damages the integrity of the skin barrier. And when your skin barrier becomes compromised, you have a higher risk of skin infections and other complications.

Even though EC mostly affects children with eczema, it can also develop in adults without eczema who have damaged skin. Some of the other risk factors for EC include:

Is eczema coxsackium contagious?

While eczema itself is not a contagious condition, the viruses that cause EC are extremely contagious. People with the condition can spread the virus to those around them.

If your child has received a diagnosis of EC, it’s extremely important for them to avoid contact with others until they no longer have active blisters or a fever. At home, practicing good hygiene — such as washing hands frequently and not sharing personal items — is also important.

One of the initial signs of EC is a cough or runny nose that develops before other symptoms. Once more symptoms develop, they may include:

  • a painful and rapidly spreading rash
  • clear or white fluid-filled blisters
  • crusted-over or scabbed sores
  • possible sores and pain in the mouth
  • irritability, fatigue, and fever

EC tends to develop on areas of the skin that are either affected by eczema or otherwise damaged and more susceptible to infection. Bumps, blisters, and sores tend to appear on the hands, feet, arms, limbs, torso, or buttocks — but they can appear anywhere on the body.

EC infections usually resolve on their own, typically within a few weeks. Most children with this condition recover at home and don’t require hospitalization.

Parents can manage symptoms at home with pain medications, moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, and wet wrapping for severe symptoms. Wet wrapping is an alternative treatment for eczema that can help reduce symptoms like itching and inflammation.

While most cases of EC are self-limiting, meaning they go away without treatment, it’s important to seek medical care if your child is experiencing:

  • severe pain
  • a fever that won’t go away
  • symptoms that don’t resolve on their own

How long does eczema coxsackium last?

Research shows that most cases of EC resolve own their own, with at-home treatment, within 1-2 weeks.

Severe complications are rare, but some children may experience skin peeling on the palms of their hands or nail changes. Nail changes can happen within 1-2 months after the infection and may include nail ridging or painless shedding of the nails.

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EC is a type of enterovirus infection that commonly affects children with atopic dermatitis (eczema). EC causes a painful, blistery rash that can appear anywhere on the body, along with other symptoms like cough, fever, and fatigue.

EC typically resolves on its own within a matter of a few weeks with at-home management, and serious complications are rare. But it’s best to get medical attention if a high fever or severe pain develops.